How to choose the right VPN for personal use

VPN for personal use: There are many VPN services on the net, with different prices, but which essentially offer the same service, a secure connection with the IP address that we choose at will among the many available worldwide. Some services say they care more about security, others about network speed, so you’ll only have to choose the one you like best since the service is very similar. Commercially available VPN services obviously have a cost, which is not that different from service to service, although there are more expensive VPNs and cheaper VPNs.

Usually, the greatest savings are achieved by choosing long-term plans, 2-3 years, with which you pay around 2 to 4 euros per month. For shorter plans obviously, the monthly cost increases, if you are on plans of 1 year or less, the costs range from around 5 to 8 euros per month, while for monthly plans you will certainly have to spend around 10 euros or more.

Many think VPNs are illegal due to their bad reputation since they are often used to carry out illegal activities without being traceable. However, this is not a general behaviour; many companies and government agencies use VPNs to secure their data, and many users legally use VPNs to protect themselves from tracking websites and for using public WiFi. So, using a VPN is not illegal; in fact, it’s the actions you take using it that could be illegal. Of course, if you commit crimes using a VPN, you are subject to legal prosecution for those offences, not because you were using a VPN.

Choose the security

If you value your security, using a VPN is undoubtedly better than not using it, as it is generally safe and protects you from prying eyes, especially when you do delicate operations. To check if your VPN is secure, you can use specialized sites that check the information of your internet network, such as the IP address. If you run the test while connected to the VPN, it should fail to locate your local IP or DNS since you are connected to the VPN server; if not, your VPN service is not completely secure.

As we said at the beginning of the article, you need to know that each VPN service secures the data exchanged using an encryption key. The most secure protocol many VPN services use is AES 256-bit, which is currently the most secure out there. The strength of a cryptographic protocol lies in the key that must be used to read it; the larger the key, the more difficult it is to discover and, therefore, circumvent. The AES protocol uses 256-bit keys, which are the largest and, therefore, the most secure; other VPNs use 128-bit keys, which are also very secure.

Antiviruses and VPNs

A large number of antivirus vendors also offer VPNs. Therefore, you can completely protect your device with just one subscription. With a VPN, it is advisable to also use antivirus protection for maximum protection of your devices, as a VPN will only protect you from some of the internet’s pitfalls and is insufficient for most hacker attempts to steal your data or harm your devices. Simply put, antivirus is to protect your device, and VPN is to get privacy on the internet.

VPN Service
VPN Service

Choose the logging policy

All VPN services also keep logs when they are used. There are basically two types of logs: the connection log, which records data about your connection, such as your IP address, and the usage log, which keeps track of what you have done while connected to the VPN. These logs are obviously secret and cannot be consulted, as the companies that offer VPN services care about security; it is one of their greatest strengths.

So why do these companies keep records? Providing a service without data on usage and quality is very difficult. In addition, many VPNs have a limit of devices that can be registered or used simultaneously, which would be impossible to prevent without keeping an access log, or still others have limitations on the available bandwidth, this aspect must also be kept under control. Log keeping varies from service to service; in general, they all say to clear the logs immediately, but usually, they refer to the usage logs, which are generally the most important. In any case, the registers cannot be disclosed publicly and are used exclusively by the company.

Where is the headquarters of a VPN company for personal use

In general, companies that offer VPN services do not disclose their headquarters, partly because it is superfluous, given that it is a service that is used by many precisely to position you in other countries, partly because it is not in their interest to do so. Many VPN companies will likely be based in places with looser internet service laws or simply in places with low tax regimes. On the other hand, they are companies; they must think of profits first.

Choose the protocol

The most famous and used protocol is OpenVPN: it is one of the most used, it is very versatile and offers an excellent balance between performance, speed and reliability. IKEv2 is great for mobile devices as it automatically reconnects if the connection is lost, which is common in mobile networks. Speed is one of its biggest advantages, but it has a more complicated setup process. WireGuard is a simple and easy-to-implement open-source protocol, very fast and efficient. L2TP/IPSec is an alternative protocol to OpenVPN.

It does everything well but does not excel in anything; generally, it is appreciated. SSTP is a proprietary protocol from Microsoft, so it works and integrates very well with Windows. If you have other operating systems, it is almost impossible to integrate, so you must change to something else. PPTP is an old and outdated protocol with decent speed but little attention to security; it is better to avoid VPNs that use this protocol.

VPN servers and country

More important than the number of VPN servers is the VPN network in different countries of the world. More servers are also an advantage because, with more servers, users have more computing capacity. This can theoretically lead to faster connection speeds. However, this may not be the rule, as it depends on the number of users. Thus, fewer servers are not a strict reason not to choose a given provider.

Choose versatility

It’s equally important when you get a VPN that supports all your devices. All VPN solutions offer applications for the most popular operating systems. VPN applications for Windows and Mac VPN, as well as VPN applications for iPhone and Android, can be found at every provider. Only a few select providers offer VPN apps for Linux, Android TV, Apple TV, Firestick, ChromeOS and other operating systems. So, before opting for a given solution, check that VPN applications are offered for your device. A VPN secures your home network by using it on your router.

However, this solution will slow down your internet connection and only offers some of the benefits of a full app. The VPN provider must also offer support for connecting through the router. Many VPNs also offer their applications as browser extensions. This will be especially useful for devices for which no app is provided. The downside is that you only secure your internet connection within the browser, not your entire device. Not all providers offer a free trial, but most offer a money-back guarantee, so if you find that one of your devices isn’t supported after buying a license, you can usually get a refund within 30 days.

Antonino Caffo has been involved in journalism, particularly technology, for fifteen years. He is interested in topics related to the world of IT security but also consumer electronics. Antonino writes for the most important Italian generalist and trade publications. You can see him, sometimes, on television explaining how technology works, which is not as trivial for everyone as it seems.